Whalum suggests cutting benefits to some students - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Whalum suggests cutting benefits to habitually absent students

Kenneth Whalum, Jr. Kenneth Whalum, Jr.

By Jamel Major - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Memphis City Schools board member says he has the solution to habitually late or absent students. Kenneth Whalum, Jr. wants a new state law that would withhold welfare benefits from parents whose children are not in school.

"I'm saying if your child is habitually tardy or absent, we can adjust your welfare benefits," Whalum said.

State law already allows the state to withhold benefits from parents whose children are not enrolled, but Whalum says the law isn't tough enough.

Board Member Tomeka Hart believes the proposal ridiculous, saying all parents must be held responsible for their kids coming to school, even if they don't get assistance.

"I am not supportive of any legislation that will take out certain classes of parents and hold them accountable," Hart said.

But Whalum in concentrating solely on people receiving government assistance.

"I don't care what happens to them if they're not getting public assistance because they're not the public's responsibility," Whalum said. "If the government is providing you housing and food, then you ought to be willing to do something."

Hart added that cutting off money used to pay for food doesn't make sense.

"You cut that and they're still not coming, so what are you going to do cut it to zero?  Do you cut it every month?  Is a percentage based on the times they miss school?" she asked.

Whalum, however, said something must be done.

"People who have EBT cards get their nails done," he said. "They get weaves, jewelry.  I'm not mad, but if you can do all that, you can take time on the way from the beauty shop to see why your son isn't going to class."

The proposal will come up for discussion again when the School Board finalizes its legislative agenda on November 23.

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